The Highway Patrol reports 24 people have drowned in Missouri’s lakes and rivers this year, that’s more than the total number for 2012, when 20 people died from drowning. Spokesman Tim Hull says a couple of drownings can be attributed to flash flooding, but says despite that, the numbers are extremely high for this time of year.

He says we’re amid a four-day weekend for many, and that means the state’s waterways will continue to be busy throughout the weekend. He’s urging everyone to slow down, appoint a sober skipper, and wear a life jacket. He says those who cannot swim or are unsteady on their feet should also wear a life jacket on boat docks.

The St. Joseph News Press reports that the bodies of two Clinton County men were recovered early this morning after they disappeared at Smithville Lake July 4.

Troopers with the Missouri State Highway Patrol Marine Division recovered the bodies of a 55-year-old Gregory Weese, of Plattsburg, and John Butts, 55, of Smithville. The two disappeared while wading in the northwest portion of the lake shortly before 5:30 p.m. yesterday.

Sgt. Sheldon Lyon with the Missouri State Highway Patrol said the men were wading on a submerged road built before the lake was created when one man lost his footing and went underwater. The second man attempted to grab onto the other, but also disappeared below the water.

“We know one of the men yelled for help, but no one was able to get them, so that is how we were notified,” Lyon said. “We first thought they were with their family, but they weren’t around them at that time.”

The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports a young man who had to be rescued from a lake after spending about 30 minutes underwater has died.

Authorities said James Harrell, 20, of St. Louis, swimming with friends at an area lake when he went under. Rescuers pulled Harrell from the lake about 30 minutes after he went under and he was rushed to the hospital, where he had been listed in critical condition Thursday night. He was pronounced dead this morning.

The Highway Patrol posts information on injuries and fatalities on Missouri’s roads and waterways HERE.